Politicians insist that making pork mandatory in Danish city’s schools is not “harassment of Muslims”

Pork: Danish food culture or anti-Muslim weapon?
Pork: Danish food culture or anti-Muslim weapon?
Image: Reuters/Thomas Peter
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This post has been corrected.

In a move local politicians say is aimed at preserving local food culture—not unwelcome Muslim migrants—the Danish city of Randers is now requiring that all municipal menus include pork, the Associated Press reports.

Pork is a major agricultural product in Denmark, but strictly forbidden in the Muslim and Jewish religions. Most of the asylum-seeking migrants that have been entering the country are Muslim.

The council motion was narrowly approved earlier this week after being proposed by the Danish People’s Party, a far-right party known for its anti-immigration stance.

Local councilman and Danish People’s Party member Frank Noergaard insisted to the AP that the order, which extends to all public schools and nurseries, wasn’t about the ”harassment of Muslims.” But he also said that he wants to send the signal that, “if you’re a Muslim and you plan to come to Randers, don’t expect you can impose eating habits on others. Pork here is on an equal footing with other food.”

The issue is a familiar one in Denmark: In 2013, hospitals and nurseries faced a backlash for serving halal meat to patients and children, whether or not they were Muslim, in what was dubbed the “meatball wars.”

This is just the latest sign of Denmark’s attitude towards immigrants. Earlier this month, a bill in Denmark proposed that refugees give over any valuables with them that exceed 10,000 kroner (approx. $1,450) in order to pay for their housing while they go through the asylum application process. In July, the new conservative government cut available benefits to asylum seekers in an attempt to dissuade them from coming to Denmark. The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, recently criticized the government’s proposed immigration policies, saying the restrictions could potentially ”fuel fear [and] xenophobia.”

Correction (Jan. 22): An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Randers as a Dutch city in the headline, instead of a Danish city.